Last Updated: 20th July, 2016
Analyst Coverage: Philip Howard, Simon Holloway, David Norfolk, Nigel Stanley


Microsoft Software is an American company with global offices (it is one of the world's most valuable companies). It was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975 and, in 2000, Bill Gates stepped down as CEO in favour of Steve Ballmer.

Microsoft initially sold BASIC interpreters; and entered the OS market in 1980 when IBM employed it to deliver MS-DOS for the IBM PC (it ported an existing CP/M product to the 8086). After that it got into the people-centric office productivity space, refining the mouse (invented around 1967 by Doug Engelbart at SRI) and first introduced its office suite in 1980. In 1985, it released Microsoft Windows, a graphical extension to MS-DOS, which revolutionised the business desktop. It then took over the ISV market with Visual Basic and, from about 1995, began to redefine its offerings, finally accepting the inevitability of the World Wide Web and expanding into the server side; business applications; and computer networking; as well as diversifying into new areas like entertainment and devices. Microsoft now offers a broad spectrum of hardware and software products, and services, aimed at both home (personal) and business applications. It dominates the office suite market and its SQL Server Relational DBMS (originally developed in co-operation with Sybase but since almost completely rewritten) is now one of the big three databases.

Of Microsoft's eight (in 2013) operating divisions, Bloor is most concerned with Microsoft Business Solutions (branded Microsoft Dynamics, including 4 different ERPs, CRM, and Microsoft Health Solutions); Microsoft Office Division (productivity, collaboration and enterprise social products and services and speech technologies); Server and Tools Division (Microsoft infrastructure software, developer tools and cloud platform, incluidng cloud); and the Windows and Windows Live Division (all its Windows businesses and Internet Explorer). Other divisions deal with Online Services (portal and advertising services); its Interactive Entertainment Business and Windows Phone.

Microsoft identity and access management

Last Updated: 11th July, 2013

Microsoft offers a wide range of products related to identity and access management, although its products are considered rather rudimentary compared to competitors and are best suited to those organisations that primarily run Microsoft applications. They appeal in the main part to SMEs, rather than large enterprises, and customer references are thin on the ground. It has recently made acquisitions to fill out its portfolio and to develop capabilities for identity and access management for web and cloud-based services. However, it has been criticised for the slow pace of its development and lack of innovation, and some capabilities are provided via partners. It supports a wide range of standards and a clear focus is on social identity integration. 

Microsoft maintains a strong, worldwide partner network. In terms of identity and access management, partners include Hitachi-ID, Evidian and Courion for provisioning, web access management and enterprise single sign-on capabilities. As a multinational, Microsoft has a worldwide sales and support presence. 

Owing to its tight integration with other Microsoft technologies, the typical customer would be considered to be a Microsoft 'shop'. Its rudimentary capabilities and low price make it best suited for smaller organisations. It provides little information regarding customers, and very few case studies. 

Microsoft's identity and access management suite comprises a number of components - Forefront Identity Manager (FIM), Windows Server for Active Directory, Active Directory Federation Services and Windows Identity Foundation. FIM handles policy management, certificate management and user management and aims to promote user self-service. Active Directory Federation Services enables authentication across different domains.

Microsoft has less of a focus on cloud, SIEM, governance, risk and compliance, and DLP integration than its competitors, making it less suitable for the needs of larger organisations. Those wishing to control access to cloud applications should look at its Windows Azure Access Control Service, which can accept attributes from third-party cloud, web and SaaS applications, rather than Active Directory, although it can be used in conjunction with Active Directory Federation Services to provide this functionality. 

Although it has a presence worldwide, support options are heavily skewed towards organisations in North America. 


The company offers the following solutions:

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